South Africa travel to France
(Getty Images)
  • South Africa has been removed from France’s “scarlet red list” after more than a month of harsh travel restrictions.
  • France first placed South Africa and neighbouring countries on this list in reaction to the Omicron scare, effectively halting all travel that didn’t have “pressing grounds”.
  • Now, fully vaccinated South Africans travelling to France don’t need to provide compelling reasons and won’t have to quarantine.
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France has removed South Africa from its “scarlet red list”, allowing vaccinated visitors entry without needing to quarantine or provide pressing grounds to travel.

International travel restrictions, imposed on South Africa following the discovery of the Omicron coronavirus variant, are slowly easing. Following Germany’s announcement on Monday that South Africa would no longer be considered a highly restricted “virus variant area”, France is now the latest country in Europe to follow suit in reversing its own travel ban.

Travellers from South Africa were almost instantly barred from most of Europe at the end of November, through a series of far-reaching and targeted border closures in response to the local discovery of Omicron.

These bans, which were, at the height of the initial Omicron panic, imposed by around 70 countries on South Africa and its neighbours, have been criticised as being discriminatory and unscientific.

France joins the ranks of the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark as the latest country in Europe to reopen to fully vaccinated South African travellers. South Africa’s removal from the “scarlet red list” was confirmed by the Embassy of France in South Africa on Thursday.

Now on the less stringent red list, South African travellers are still subject to Covid-19 testing protocols, while the requirement to quarantine, even if fully vaccinated, has been dropped.

All travellers from South Africa aged 12 and over, regardless of their vaccination status, must present upon boarding a negative result of a PCR or antigen test taken less than 48 hours before the flight. Travellers could also be required to take an antigen test upon arrival.

Under the new categorisation, vaccinated visitors won’t have to provide pressing grounds for travel. Unvaccinated travellers will need to provide a compelling reason to enter France. This could include being a French citizen or spouse, an international student, or worker in the land, sea, and air transport sector.

Even if the pressing grounds for travel are accepted by France’s interior ministry, these unvaccinated visitors will still be required to quarantine for 10 days while “supervised by security forces”.

Travellers to France will need to present documents proving their vaccination status and a sworn statement certifying the absence of Covid-19 symptoms “and of any contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19”.

Vaccines accepted in France are the same as the vaccines approved by the European Medicine Agency (EMA). This includes the double-dose Pfizer and single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines which are being used in South Africa.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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